Thursday, March 5, 2009

An evening with Russian friends and children

I spent an evening with two of my good friends and their children. Between the two of them, they have five kids, ages 3 months to 11. I was surprised that none of their children go to bed until the adults do. My friend Marina desperately wants her kids to go to bed earlier, so that she can have some time adult time, but she hasn’t had any luck.

“I end up yelling in the evening,” she said, “Because I’m just tired and need some time to myself.”

I told her about the tactics I’d seen Supernanny use and she said she would try returning the children to bed without speaking to them.

My friend Nadya, who is a single mother, is using a tactic I thought was interesting in raising her two boys, ages 11 and 4. She believes that the ages 18-24 are especially difficult for boys and thinks that her younger son will need a strong male role model at that time. So she puts her older son, Bair, in first place and tells her younger son that he has to obey his brother.

“He used to get very frustrated by that,” she said. “But now he’s used to it.”

My parents tried to ensure equity and fairness between my brother and I, as do most parents I know. But it seems like American parents also spend a lot of time negotiating or at least listening to quarrels among their children. I wonder whether a hard and fast rule like Nadya’s would reduce the amount of time spent negotiating fights between kids. I wonder whether it would help the younger siblings to have a role model and whether this would be worth whatever sense of unfairness they might feel.

What do you think?

No comments: